Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Shilling for gangsters, editor plays blame game

Today the unnamed Courier editor, ever the amateur economic policy wonk, blames the Obama administration for aggravating the negative effects of recession by "vilifying" the national Chamber of Commerce. Apparently the Chamber is so sensitive to criticism that it is withholding economic prosperity from its members to assuage its own hurt feelings. If that makes sense to you, what follows probably won't.

At issue is the President's assertion that foreign money is helping fund the Chamber's unprecedented spending against Democrats in this election cycle. No one disputes that this is true, including Factcheck.org, which the editor cites as refuting it. Factcheck says that "no evidence has been presented to prove" that the money goes into campaign media, but since the money is going into the Chamber's general fund and the campaign money is coming out of it, that's weak beer. Read the investigative results here.

No one is claiming that what the Chamber is doing is illegal, as the editor wrongly implies. The editor also claims that attention to the Chamber's funding sources is a "smokescreen" to somehow make us forget about high unemployment and "meager economic growth on the Democrats' watch," implying Democrat culpability for eight years of Republicans driving our economy into the ground. This must be how it is in the editor's looking-glass world, because as far as I can see it's completely divorced from reality.

The editor somehow missed that serious Republicans are also asking that the Chamber disclose its funders or undergo FEC audit, and that whole Chamber chapters are quitting in protest.

But the editor's right that the issue of foreign money isn't a huge deal in the greater scheme. What he's not seeing is that the traditionally non-partisan Chamber is using it and a whole lot more to fund a $75-million anti-Dem campaign. This is a challenge that cannot go unanswered.

The editor puts on his concern-troll hat and warns that the government might look like it's anti-business for saying bad things about the Chamber. Given that the President has bent over backward to be pro-business for nearly two years, bailing out big companies that didn't deserve it, reducing taxes and holding off on repairing the regulatory ruin left by the Bush administration, the more pertinent question is why business is being so anti-government.

I'm certain that Dem political strategists aren't concerned about Obama appearing to be anti-business at this point. The voters who respond to that meme are so deep in the other camp that they won't be moved by anything. The challenge for Dems this year is getting demoralized Dem voters to come out again and hold back the midterm tide.

Right now the media narrative holds that the Rs will sweep the Congress on the basis of "voter anger" over better, cheaper healthcare coverage and 10% unemployment instead of 18%. If that comes to pass, we can look forward to several years of even worse governmental paralysis as the American Taliban reasserts itself to do nothing but make things worse. Why is Big Business betting heavily on that future?

Have you noticed how the Mexican drug gangs have made their world safe for profits? They've taken over the government, creating their own fiefdoms and installing their own legal structure in the form of owned police and judges, freeing them from interference by the forces of public interest. It's not that different here, and that's exactly what the Chamber and its big-business members are trying to do. As we give away our power to regulate business for the public good, we fall further into gangster capitalism. That's not a world you want to live in, I don't care how libertarian you think you are.

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